|US food labels to list calories and sugar
The US is proposing new food labels that would make it easier to know about calories and added sugars, a reflection of the shifting science behind nutrition.
Fat was the focus two decades ago when the labels first were created, but nutritionists are now more concerned with calories.
Under proposed changes, calories would be in larger, bolder type on food labels, and consumers for the first time would know whether foods have added sugars, AP reports.
Serving sizes would be updated. They have long been misleading, with many single-serving packages listing multiple servings, so the calorie count is lower.
The Food and Drug Administration will announce the proposed changes Thursday (Friday HK time) at the White House.
The new nutrition labels are likely several years away. The FDA will take comments on the proposal for 90 days, and a final rule could take another year. Once it's final, the agency has proposed giving industry two years to comply.
The FDA projects food companies will have to pay around US$2 billion as they change the labels.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the industry group that represents the largest food companies, did not respond to any specific parts of the proposal but called it a “thoughtful review.''
President Pamela Bailey said it was important to the food companies that the labels “ultimately serve to inform, and not confuse, consumers.''
The inclusion of added sugars to the label was one of the biggest revisions. Nutrition advocates have long asked for that line on the label because it's impossible for consumers to know how much sugar in an item is naturally occurring, like that in fruit and dairy products, and how much is added by the manufacturer.
According to the Agriculture Department's 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, added sugars contribute an average of 16 percent of the total calories in US diets. Though those naturally occurring sugars and the added sugars act the same in the body, the USDA says the added sugars are just empty calories, while naturally occurring ones usually come along with other nutrients.